Breakthrough: Catrina Rule

Posted by: DVULI | August 28, 2023

Catrina Rule, Breakthrough, Representing DVULI urban youth leader training.

by Kimberlee Mitchell, Staff

When Catrina Rule (Grand Rapids 2006) went through the DVULI training, she was an overworked single mother raising two biological and bonus children. She worked two full-time jobs while juggling her studies toward a master’s degree. Catrina had every reason to justify declining the invitation to be part of the Grand Rapids cohort, but this time, her default bad habit of “saying yes to everything” proved to be her saving grace.

After a long, dragged-out divorce, she felt alone, and her pain manifested in an insatiable desire to be needed. “I felt like I failed as a wife,” she recalls. “I became that yes person because I didn’t want to fail at anything else.” Catrina’s draw to be a reliable source for others resulted in her unknowingly neglecting her well-being and the needs of her family.

“I never had time to do anything for myself because I was so focused on getting stuff done for others,” explains Catrina, who remembers feeling like she didn’t have room to breathe. “That lack of boundaries also made my children lack. Since they were younger, I rationalized that they were good with whatever I did because I was still around. But that was not healthy or true.”

Her goal to be an accomplished, African American female role model for her children and the youth she served at Pathfinders, an after-school program for youth ages 7-18 in Muskegon Heights, backfired because she was disappearing at home. She recalled overhearing one of her kids saying, “My mom is never home, and when she is, she’s working.” When she tried to connect at home, she would fall asleep within minutes in front of the TV or often during conversations due to exhaustion.

When this balance blind spot was revealed at the first national conference in Orlando, Catrina recalled being so triggered that she called friends to pick her up, but no one came. The year before joining DVULI, Catrina had a health scare, so those near and dear in her life already knew God placed her in that cohort for this reason. Covered in prayer, Catrina pushed through the pain and trusted the process until she was convinced that healthy change in her life was paramount to her survival.

“I learned that changes, changes, and more changes needed to be made in my life in order to positively impact those I love and myself,” she outlined in her breakthrough plan.

The first change she implemented was to say no. “I learned to say no in a heartbeat and not feel guilty about it,” she recalls. “Some people try to make you feel bad, but I don’t worry about that anymore.”

With the increased bandwidth, she shifted her focus to home. “I placed the two children I gave birth to as priority number one,” explains Catrina, who also welcomed stepchildren at family gatherings. “My kids were thankful for my full presence. They felt important.” Her children were also grateful that their stepsiblings, who were grafted into their lives, were also present for quality family time.

Simultaneously, she asked herself, “What can I do differently to take care of me?” Her recent health issues demanded change, so she began a wellness journey. A group of friends were dieting to prepare for bariatric surgery, and Catrina decided to join them on the journey. Leveraging the weekly Sunday weigh-ins, the accountability circle, and keeping a diet journal, she lost 100 pounds—without surgery. She still meets with her accountability partners once a week.

Catrina got her groove back due to healthy change, allowing her career and family life to flourish. A self-professed lifelong learner, she has since completed a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in management and organizational development.

Catrina specializes in collaboration and productive cooperation within organizations and communities throughout Michigan. She leveraged her Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) certificate training to facilitate DEI workshops and earned a board position with Incompass Michigan. This work led her to co-found How YOU Birth, a sisterhood of women in Muskegon who advocate for black mothers offering pre and postpartum doula services. Catrina also serves on the executive board and participates as a trained birth and postpartum doula.

Currently, she is the Program Manager for MI Tri-Share Child Care at Goodwill Industries, a West Michigan program where childcare costs are equally shared between employers, parents, and the State of Michigan. Due to the pilot program’s success, Tri-Share is now in 52 out of 83 counties in Michigan.

An empty nester, Catrina keeps busy working for Delta Airlines and with her entrepreneurial ventures as a certified life coach and travel agency owner. She also has plans to launch a doula agency.

Her now grown kids are college graduates from Ferris State University and Michigan State University. Both entrepreneurs, her son and daughter inherited mom’s work ethic and drive. Although they live out of state, she and her adult children still hold each other accountable. When they need advice, they call her “Trina,” and she puts the mentor hat on. When they need parenting, they refer to her as “Mom.”

“I can tell you one thing for sure,” professes Catrina. “The changes prompted by my DVULI training have helped me be a better mother, daughter, friend, boss, and church member.”